||Or more accurately, pure corn. It took writer-director Christopher Cain (along with his son, Dean) eighteen years to make this follow-up (though not really a sequel) to his 1992 George Strait movie, and one could most charitably say that it wasn’t worth the wait. The music in “Pure Country 2” is quite listenable, but the plot that surrounds the songs is utter hokum. And the threadbare production does neither any favors.
It’s a rag-to-riches-to-rags story furnished with one Texas-sized moral: don’t lie, be fair, and never break a promise. Orphan Bobbie Thomas (Katrina Elam) is born with a special gift—given her by a bumptious trio of angels (Michael McKean, Cheech Marin and Bronson Pinchot)—a fantastic singing voice. But as the wise black woman (Jackie Welch) who raises her says, with such a gift comes a responsibility to live a good life.
It’s a lesson Bobbie Thomas learns all too well when she goes to Nashville to make a career in country music. She first falls in with a band made up of the waiters at the sushi restaurant where she lands a job, but her exceptional voice gets the attention of a sleazy promoter (Todd Truly), who coaxes her to drop her new friends for a recording deal. Soon she’s on the road with none other than George Strait, and making googly eyes at the handsome cowboy (Travis Fimmel) hired to appear in her music video. Trouble arrives, though, in the person of the father (J.D. Parker) who’d left her mother after a one-night-stand—a drunkard who proves unable to stay off the sauce.
And when Bobbie breaks the rules her auntie had laid down for her (to the accompaniment of terrible thunder in each case), she actually loses her voice and finds her career finished even before it’s begun. Happily, life with that cowboy may be a good alternative. After all, he’s a great guy who runs a pony-ride camp for autistic kids.
Elam, an Oklahoma girl whose real singing career has sputtered in its infancy, sings Bobbie’s numbers—some of them actually written by her—very well. As an actress, however, she’s still an amateur. Nobody else in the cast is significantly better, though, with Strait, in what amounts to a cameo, even stiffer than she is. Even veterans like Dean Cain, in a cameo as a photographer, and William Katt, as a comically flamboyant makeup man, come on too strong—which indicates that the direction isn’t exactly crisp. From the technical perspective, things are about average for a modestly-budgeted independent picture. It will probably look better on a small screen.
“Pure Country 2” is warmhearted. Unfortunately, it’s also softheaded.